Visitor profile: Average Las Vegas visitor getting older

Apr 12, 2009 7:40 PM
by David Stratton |

Last year, the average age of a visitor to Las Vegas eclipsed 50 for the first time ever (50.6 years), significantly older than the average age, 47.7, four years ago.

Moreover, 76 percent of visitors to Las Vegas said they were over the age of 40, up from 71 percent in 2007, while 28 percent said they were retired, a 2 percent increase from the previous year.

So much for marketers’ love affair with Generation X, Generation Y and all the hip-hop jive that goes with them.

The visitor demographics were among the results from the annual Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study, just released by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

The study is based on hundreds of interviews conducted by the LVCVA in 2008. The polling took place in and around casinos located on the Las Vegas Strip corridor, which includes casinos within a couple blocks of the Strip.

Other results suggest that while visitors were impacted by the economic recession, they didn’t to any great extent cancel vacations to Southern Nevada.

For instance, the proportion of repeat visitors who came for vacation or pleasure slipped only 2 percent to 36 percent in 2008. The proportion who came primarily to gamble actually increased 1 percent to 15 percent of visitors.

Poll results on visitors’ gambling habits also revealed some interesting dichotomies. On the one hand, 13 percent of all visitors said they came to Las Vegas "primarily" to gamble, a 2 percent increase over 2007, and more than three times the number in 2004.

However, only 85 percent of all visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas, down significantly from 87 percent each in 2004 and 2005.

Moreover, the average amount budgeted for gambling slipped to $531.98 last year, down significantly from $626.50 in 2005 and $651.94 in 2006.

Another key measure of gambling activity is the proportion of players who bring at least $600 for casino play. Last year 22 percent said they had a bankroll of at least $600, down from 28 percent in 2005 and 30 percent in 2006.

Part of the reason visitors might be spending less on gambling is other costs of their trip have risen significantly in recent years.

For instance, last year the average amount spent on food and drink was $273.99 per visit, up significantly from $238.32 in 2004 and $248.40 in 2005.

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In addition, the average cost of a tour package/package deal skyrocketed to $746.69 per person last year, dramatically more than the $561 in 2004 and $571 in 2005.

Overall, about 15 percent of visitors to Las Vegas said they didn’t gamble – up slightly from 13 percent in 2004 and 14 percent in 2005. The largest segment of them (39 percent) said they were either "not interested" or thought gambling was "boring." Another 22 percent said they didn’t like losing, while 13 percent said they didn’t have time to gamble. About 7 percent said they couldn’t afford to gamble, 5 percent cited religious objections, and 4 percent said they didn’t like the gambling environment.

Last year, Las Vegas also experienced the fewest number of first-time visitors ever – 16 percent said they were first-time visitors, down from 19 percent in 2007.

In addition to tracking gambling and spending patterns, the LVCVA Visitor Profile chronicles key demographics about the average visitor.

In addition to the age statistics noted above, 80 percent of visitors were married, up from 73 percent and 74 percent in 2004 and 2005, respectively, while 83 percent had a household income of $40,000 or more (up from 70 percent in 2004).

As noted earlier, a substantial number of visitors in 2008 were retired, about 28 percent, compared to only 24 percent in 2005.

Also of note, there were more visitors from outside the country, 15 percent last year versus 12 percent in 2007, and fewer visitors from California, 28 percent versus 31 percent in 2007.

The cost of air travel has apparently also taken a toll. Last year, about 43 percent of visitors traveled by air, down from 46 percent the previous two years.

Conversely, there were more travelers driving their own cars: about 57 percent of Vegas visitors drove, up significantly from 54 percent in 2006 and 2007.

For a copy of the 2009 LVCVA Visitor Profile Study, visit the agency’s web site at lvcva.com.